Why and how we want to address mental wellbeing in our workplace. A note from MD of CT, Ian Snow
All the articles on mental health that I’ve read and the statistics quoted were brought into perspective for me on 16th November last year when I lost a good friend to suicide. A successful sportsman who built a successful banking career from nothing, raised over £800k for various charities, set up local sports teams “just so the kids have a chance to play” and who generally focused on making sure everyone around him was happy. I was with him the week before he died and everything seemed normal, he was as full of energy and infectious enthusiasm as always and we were planning some big events for next year. On the Wednesday he sent me a text to remind me of a couple of things we needed to do and I spoke to him on the phone. He seemed unusually quiet but it was early morning and I assumed he was busy. I have spoken to other friends who said he had also seemed a little out of sorts, cancelling meetings with them which was unusual and he had said he was having “a bit of a bad week at work”. By the Friday that bad week at work had led him to conclude that the best option for him was to take his own life. As is always the case when we lose someone we love we ask ourselves “what if?”.
Often life deals cruel blows that none of us could have done anything about. Rightly or wrongly I feel that there are so many “what ifs” between his close friends that were so close to preventing us losing our friend and that makes it very hard. I do feel that just one conversation with one of us could have been enough to persuade him “it doesn’t matter.” However he was a strong and proud man (who clearly hid his feelings well) and we are all busy with our own lives so that conversation never happened. Unfortunately we won’t be getting a second chance.
The reason for writing this now is not a negative one. It is to explain the driving factor behind something CT will be introducing over the coming months. We have been looking for ways that CT can help. We do not believe that CT can simply fix what can be very complex issues but what we can do is:
- Help us all identify if we are showing potential signs of stress and understand what to look out for in ourselves
- Provide details of where we could go to get assistance and guidance if needed
- Provide a source of information to everyone
- Provide training to raise our awareness of the warning signs so that we can all look out for each other
Ironically, before our friend died, he had helped a young guy called Harry Bliss set up a new business - Champion Health. Champion Health's aim is to help raise awareness of mental and physical health in the workplace and what is now being termed "emotional well-being". Champion Health provide an on-line self-assessment and training platform which is about to launch and we have agreed to be one of the first (if not the first) business to roll it out.
Champion health consists of a team of 35 health experts including professors, mental health professionals, nurses and many more. They have designed cutting edge solutions to optimise the health of employees across the UK, which stems from an online health assessment report which looks at all aspects of the individuals life. The results guide us to learn what our team need to help improve their emotional well-being through a comprehensive range of courses, seminars and keynotes.
I would encourage other businesses to approach this with an open mind and listen to Harry and their team. If nothing else, it will help us all understand the potential symptoms and indicators of colleagues and friends who may be struggling and give us the opportunity to help! Obviously my personal experience has brought home the reality of the statistics and making sure I do whatever I can to look after the CT team, is something that is close to my heart.